Respecting the Cyclical Nature of Female in your Practice
Respecting the cyclical nature of being female is definitely not something I have always done. Rewind 8 years, before babies, and I would have considered altering my day to day activities and work out plans as a sign of weakness; I wasn’t going to let my period push me around! Fortunately, I was blessed with minimal PMT and my aggressive attitude toward my cycle did not effect my fertility. I was, however, determined to lead my life in an extremely linear and predictable fashion. I expected to be able to run (literally and figuratively) at the same level and pace ALL the time, and at this time in my life, was doing so with reasonable success.
My changed approach in how I chose to move through my month first presented itself during my teacher training and went on to became an integrated part of life when I studied pre and postnatal yoga. Interestingly, this time of study coincided with the birth of my second child and the early years of adjustment to now having two small children to care for. The truth is, that with the demands that come hand in hand while caring for ‘little people’ I literally couldn’t live my life in the same linear fashion I had been. My energy levels, especially as menstruation would creep closer, simply couldn’t keep up.
So, how did my month begin to manifest and change as I began to tune into the ebbs and flows of what it is to be female? The first and most clear change was in my daily yoga practice, and from there, many of the principles I was adopting on the mat began to leach out into my daily life. The more I learn and lean into this concept the more in tune I become. Below is just a few simple ways I began (and you can too) incorporating a more synchronised method to move through your cycle. Menstruation:
* During menstruation I only practice restorative yoga and definitely dodge all inversions, even so much as to try and avoid (where I can) demonstrating down face dogs while I’m teaching. Apana Vayus is the downward movement of prana in the body and is responsible for actions such as urination, excretion, ejaculation and menstruation. During your bleeding time aim to keep the flow moving in the right direction, e.g. down and out. Inverting literally reverses the flow in the wrong direction.
* I completely avoid any high intensity exercise for the first 2 - 3 days of menstruation. That is not to say that I don’t go for a walk or ride with the children to school. But I do honour the need for my body to rest, recoup and release at this time
* I prioritise rest time, whether it is an extra nap or squeezing in a yoga nidra in the middle of the day time, checking out to check in becomes a priority. I will leave the dishes, washing etc in favour of even just 10 -15 mins to lie down. Of course, my children are now old enough that they can entertain themselves for this length of time, but when they were babies/tots I really did take on the idea of resting when they napped. In general I tend to move at a slower pace in everything I do during those first few days
* When menstruation has completely ceased I reincorporate inversions and semi-inversions into my practice to help encourage the uterus/womb back up into it’s normal positioning.
Time in Between - Follicular to Ovulation to Luteal:
* I choose to respect the my ebbs and flows through the rest of the month. Coming into ovulation my practice is often (but not always) stronger and more dynamic. As the month progresses and I move towards pre-menstruation I start to slow down and naturally my practice tends to become more earthed with more of my time spent on the ground then in standing poses.
This is just a taste of what can be done, and I continue to learn and enquire more around this essentially female topic. Keep tuned in and I share more as the knowledge is revealed to me!!!